Picking Motion Poll?


Hi there
is it worth (or does it makes sense to) have a poll as to the motions people use predominantly?

For example, Which picking motion can you do/did you learn first/

  1. DSX
  2. USX
  3. 2WPS
  4. Crosspicking (2SX)
  5. Swiping

I don’t know if this is worth it/makes sense/has any meaning, but I’d be interested to know what motions most people use. It may be that people can do 1/a few/all of these!

Anyway just a thought…


Is there a poll function on the forum?

As you say, some people are still exploring and some may even be a combination of more than one. I suppose the best thing to ask is what is their primary go-to picking motion or the one that they are hoping to implement as their primary motion?


Yes there is a simple poll builder built in that we can use here on the forum! Kinda hidden but it’s in the gear menu in the composer.

I’ll tag in @Troy to see what he thinks before opening up a poll for this. Want to make sure the options are as clear + comprehensive as we can be given our evolving vocabulary (and I believe once a poll is started it can’t be edited).


The simple answer is we’ve already done this!

This is all self-reported but interesting nevertheless. Prior to running this I would have guessed about 180bpm sixteenth notes is where most people would fall and indeed for the most part that’s where it landed, maybe a little higher.

Regarding different “escape” types, the internet at large isn’t going to know what that is so we didn’t ask about that. Even among players on this forum who may know more about mechanics, you’re going to have a hard time knowing exactly what motions are happening at any point, without actual measuring equipment. And those answers are subject to change based on tons of variables, like what guitar you are playing or string you are playing on.

For this reason, simple / broad questions with obvious answers are really best. We did ask about motion again when we asked our pick grip poll, and we were more general this time, with a single option for “wrist”. That is about as specific as you can get before you start asking people questions about their own technique which, again, are kind of impossible to know without a laboratory full of science gear:

In the interest of completeness, the “pick choice” poll is also pretty cool:

I don’t really see the need to run another one of these unless there’s something more specific we want to know. I think the practical upshot here is that there are relatively few big categories, with wrist being the most popular ingredient in all categories - either as a motion source by itself, or in combination with others.

1 Like

Thanks! This all makes sense :+1: some interesting results on max picking speeds!


In your poll of 2016 on pick grip there is nothing on where about on the plectrum you choose to hold it.

I have written elsewhere on this blog that with a standard sized plectrum I hold it in the middle for wrist one way escapes, below the middle but in the centre for forearm rotation one way escapes, and above the middle but still in its centre for two way escape picking. I think of it like traffic lights running up the middle of the pick.

So if you think of the plectrum having its own mechanics, of leverage and reach, then this becomes a separate variable.

Like many others I was told in the early 1990s by my electric guitar teacher to hold the plectrum near the tip for playing faster runs, and I think this is more than a piece of social Lamarckism but the best way to get control over a plectrum tip, but you are trading off the power from extra leverage which you may or may not need. I need more power to get a good sound from my wrist than with forearm rotation.

I can get forearm rotation going on my acoustic, and I use that smaller amount of tip on my grip. How many acoustic players rather than those who learnt on the electric play with forearm rotation? How many electric players use two way escapes? I wonder if this is because the length of the plectrum grip is the most distant for these two approaches?

1 Like

This was several years back, and at the time we were still assembling a picture of what the world of pick grip looks like — what grips are in use, and what the connections of those grips are to arm position and motion and so on.

Fast forward to the present, we have a much better picture of that now. The most recent update to the Primer is ten chapters on precisely this subject:

The next round of updates will include forearm setup and picking motion. Short story, for every grip we look at in this update, including every location on the index finger and even middle finger grips, all the escape paths are possible and I can personally do them.

It’s not so much an issue of wrong and right - it’s an issue of which of the variables go with which other of the variables. We weren’t going to capture this kind of detail in a poll, but the poll was helpful in getting our thoughts sorted.

1 Like

This is not what I meant.

Think of a grid of 3 by 3 numbered like this

7 8 9
4 5 6
1 2 3

And now image an overlay of a regular plectrum size on top of it in your mind. The plectrum tip is at number two on the grid, its top left is at number seven and its top right at number nine. So the pick is divided up into nine places where you could hold it, with 5 as the middle, four in the left middle, six right middle, two in the centre below the middle, one to the left and below the middle, three below the middle and to the right, seven above the middle and to the left, eight above the middle and in the centre, and nine above the middle and to the right of the plectrum.

So for me, forearm rotation is gripped at number two, one way wrist escape at five, and two way escape wrist picking at number eight.

Anyone could describe where they grip their plectrum using this system, with the top row of numbers being excluded for a jazz plectrum.


Sorry, I think I drifted off topic while writing that. Yes, I know what you’re referring to. In the Primer grip chapters I linked to, we call these two dimensions as “exposure” and “overlap”:

Large exposure is more pick emerging below the grip, small is less. Overlap is where the thumb centers on the pick. Positive overlap is where the thumb emerges past pick, and with negative overlap the pick emerges past the thumb. David Grier is the only negative overlap player we have filmed, hence the thumbnail image. But generaly, for each of these variables we have visual examples from the interviews we’ve done to line this all up.

If I’m understanding you, these are the variables you’re asking about. Personally, I can mix and match quite a bit. I can hold a Jazz III so close to the top that it produces almost the same exposure as a larger pick held more toward the center. And I can hold larger picks deeper into the grip to produce smaller exposure. And while doing all of this, I can get the basic escape types to function with a wide variety of picking motions and arm setups. The exception would be really tiny amounts of exposure where you can no longer reach the strings with certain arm setup(s), grip(s), and motion(s). These are the most limiting in my experience.

Again perhaps not so much a question of right and wrong, but a question of which variables work with which other variables. They’re all connected.


This is exactly what I meant!

I had trouble, once I’d got two ways of playing one way escapes rather than just my forearm rotation, of then not being able to get a smooth movement from either wrist or forearm motions despite having successfully learnt them individually, and it was only when I went back and looked for optimum grips by trying out different grip positions for both movements that I realised that for me they needed some separation or they both fell apart.

1 Like